Young Learners, Level 6: sensational sentences – great games

15th October 2021

Glad diverse students taking notes while working on project
Free Images from pexels.com

Outline:

To promote the natural use of adjectives in order for students to speak in longer, more detailed sentences.

To increase vocabulary by introducing new words and replacing basic adjectives with synonyms.

Increase general knowledge.

Inspire students to aim higher, to produce more elaborate answers without prompting.

So, let’s have some games.

First, a warm up. Describe these pictures in one or two sentences. I want three adjectives for each photo.

Cheerful man with coffee laughing together with woman
Free Images from pexels.com

EXAMPLE: The man is drinking coffee and he is friendly and happy. His mustache is unusual.

NOW … YOUR TURN

Young beautiful hispanic sad woman serious and concerned in worried  depressed facial expression — negative, ethnicity - Stock Photo | #141206126
lightfieldstudios.net
6,667 Angry Japanese Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from  Dreamstime
Dreamstime.com
How did the Russian kids made the world angry? - Luxury Topics luxury portal
luxurytopics.com
wortfm.org

What’s the story ?

Write a short story about the two photos

Set 1

abc.net.au
9 benefits of football, it makes you healthy!
newsbreezer.com

Set 2

nbcnews.com
Crazy Cajun Crabs, seafood restaurant from Fat Boyz Barbecue owners, opens  in Pompano Beach - South Florida Sun Sentinel - South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Set 3

bitlanders.com
deviantart.com

Set 4

Zambia Geography - Where is Zambia, What's in Zambia?
victoriafalls-guide.net
Zambia – A Vietnamese missionary among the street children of Africa
infoans.org

Our valuable and useful collection of adjectives

amazing, angry, Asian / beautiful, big, bored, boring /clean, clever, cute / dangerous, disappointed /easy, electric, English, exciting / fantastic, fast, fat, funny / greedy, great, Greek / happy, hard-working, healthy, high, huge / important, intelligent / Japanese / kind / lazy / messy / nervous / old, outgoing / polite, popular / quick / rude, Russian / sad, selfish, shy, sleepy, small / talkative, tiny, tired / ugly, unusual / valuable / wealthy / xenophobic / year-long, young / Zambian

4,000+ Goodbye Pictures
freepik.com

Bye Bye from the beautiful young Asian lady

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Love and Chaos Part 9(K) Chris 2

13th October 2021

Winter in Berlin 2021 – Berlin.de
Berlin in winter from berlin.de
No copyright infringement is intended. My site is not monetised.

Part Nine. Berlin. Sylvester 1995 -1996

“She stood you up ! Silke ! Here ! And you kissed, you sonofa…. You should see where she lives, and the shampoo … neon blue, and what a fragrance, designer alltheway, nonea that Schlecker (1) sheiss ! Did ya phone her ? Now, Pimms … no, but have a butcher’s, take a gander at this my friend.” (2)

Thus, Hurricane Chris, back in Rodenbergstrasse, coat still on, hat down over eyes, gloves thrown in different compass points of the room. Thus, Hurricane Chris, a vortex of verbosity, several topics covered in one seemingly endless bombastic tirade, no pause for breath or thought. Now, Hurricane Chris bending and rummaging through travel bags, an auspicious, “Ahhhhhhh, voila !”

Behold, a bottle, one metric-litre, of the finest port, according to Chris, Duty-Free had to offer, who went into pointer dog hunt mode, searching out suitable vessels.

“No port glasses ? Oh, that’s positively Dickensian.” Finally, an intermission for Richard to get a word, but probably no more, into the proceedings.

“Port is quintessentially Dicke …” Almost four words.

“Oh, it’s Melanie, everything, all of a sudden, is ‘Dickensian’. Now, what we need are comma glasses. Hhmmm, OK, these Biberkopf beakers will have to suffice, I want to hear your news, Silke, man ! And ya … where, where did ya kiss her ?”

Richard looked around him:

“Pretty much around here,” pointing to the floor.

“Very funny, no port for you, ya damn kissaholic, I mean, you know what I mean. Anatomy !”

“The lips.”

Chris nearly went into orbit:

“The lips ! Silke ! The lips ! Man … man. Silke, on the lips. And … ?”

“And ?”

“And … ? How was it ?”

“It was … nice.”

Chris thought, amateur dramatic style, finger stroking chin.

“Hhhmmm, nice or … nicccccccceeeee ?”

“It was nice.”

“Oh. Yeah, well, go figure.”

Chris shook his head, and seemed to be pondering the deepest of mysteries. Suddenly, he snapped back to the more pressing business of port, leaving behind the disappointing smoochings of Silke (with the Bond-girl legs).

He continued:

“Stood you up, hey ?”

“And I’ll tell you all about it, but first, we drink, then you tell me about Melanie, I still can’t believe … never mind, then I’ll tell you all that didn’t happen. Which won’t take long. A heads up; nothing happened.”

Chris concurred. They clinked their totally inappropriate glasses, appropriated from Cafe Biberkopf, Chris took off his outer layers as the Öfen had been stoked all day and the room was snug in the extreme, and the catching up began.

“So she’s living at Clapham Junction, near that store Arding and Hobbs …”

“Arding and Hobbs, Arding and Hobbs,” sang Richards to Chris’ utter bemusement until the memory of distant Christmas TV adverts came back.

“Oh, yes, yes, I never, OK, so, Mel’s got this great pad, I mean, Man, it’s so new, so clean, got an intercom, security gates … washing machine.”

“No !”

“Check out my jumper, no, don’t, it’s already been Berlined, oh, it’s only Berlin, and we have port ! Drink up. Prost !”

“And you didn’t go home ?”

“Well, I planned, but everything was booked, booked or fucking hell, do you have any idea how expensive everything is ? Train to Stafford was more than the flight to Berlin. Then when I saw the flat, I just crashed, I mean, I was ex…haus..tttedddd. I couldn’t move. Bag down, shower … hot water, even the water felt …”

“Wetter ?”

“Cleaner. And the shampoo ! My friend, we have accustomed ourselves to a bargain bin basement lifestyle. Port excepted. Man, this port is beautiful.”

“Yes, it’s like Zola. I love Zola, but I’ve hardly read any. Port is exquisite, we can get it here, I guess, but we don’t. Bumped into Danny Boy on Christmas. Gave me this.”

Richard reached over and held up a Penguin Classic edition of Zola’s ‘L’ Assommoir’, black spine, Degas painting on the cover.

“That looks right up my street, some knackered old slapper drowning her miseries. So, Mel, great pad … ”

“How can she afford it on just a grant ?”

“Ah, the plot … mutates. Sister. Sister avec boyfriend. Boyfriend has one of those jobs. Ditto sister. Merchant banker, him, project manager with development portfolio, her. No fucking clue any which way, me. Landed Mel with a part-time gig as managerial consultant.”

“The only part of that that made any sense to me was, ‘No fucking clue.”

Chris threw his hands up;

“I know, I asked, I asked again, I tried making diagrams, zilch.”

“German chef syndrome. You ask the name, it doesn’t take, you try again, you know, you just know, you can’t ask a third time. So you call him Yorckstrasse, and that really pisses him off. So, Mel graduates next summer ?”

“In reality, yes. In her noggin she’s already Erasmus professor at Harvard, Cambridge being somewhat beneath her.”

“Oh …,” exclaimed Richard as a loud firecracker exploded nearby. “She’s coming to stay … here ?”

“Well I can’t invite her to Rigaer 78, can I ? Can I ? No, she’s too busy. Maybe a weekend visit, but that was her just … ”

“Being herself. Now, what the Dickens ?”

“Oh, that, well one day there was a buzz and the intercom was slightly distorted, which incurred her wrath, ‘Oh, how Dickensian.’ Another day the washing machine didn’t spin, you guessed it, ‘How Dickensian.’ Seems someone had lent her some TV drama, ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, I believe, on video.”

“Ya mean she didn’t even read the book ? Kids ! You’re waiting to hear about the date, right ?”

Chris nodded and refilled the glasses. Richard sat back to compose himself. Meanwhile Chris had found the Ritters;

“This chocolate is fucking gorgeous. Ok, the floor is yours. You saw me off at the airport, oh, I forgot, ya dumped me at the U-Bahn … ”

“After which I returned home, picking up the pastry, cookin’ the coffee. Suddenly, bang, bang, bang on the door. Enter Silke, legs and all, hug, exchange of body warmth, increase of heart rate. We natter for an hour or so, she just lives over Stargarder now, we drink, we talk, we smoke, we laugh … we kiss. Once. Long but not too long. Lips closed. No invitation for a follow up. It was, I believed, a taste of things to come. So, we are at Kottbusser Tor, by which I mean I was, and I’m making my way through the drunks and bums and the, ‘Haben Sie Kleingeld, bittes ?’ (3) heading for the right exit, get to the bar, I’m early, of course, get a drink, Campari and soda … and casually wait. Bar’s getting busy, Saturday night before Christmas. I look around, take my drink, sit where I can see the door, just waiting for her to arrive. Make a point of not checking my watch, but this is Berlin …”

“Clocks everywhere.”

“And they are ticking away. S’OK, weather’s terrible, delay on the U-Bahn, I know, it’s Berlin there are never delays on the U-Bahn. She’s putting on special make up, or a dress or … so I wait. I allow her thirty minutes, no problem. It’s now forty-five minutes. I’m sippin’ that Campari as slow as possible. Now it’s an hour. I need the bathroom.”

“Do you stay or do you go ?”

“Oh, I had to go, big time ! All that soda. But if I go and she comes, she may think I’ve gone or stood her up. So I stay. Ten minutes pass. I could have gone five times. Finally, just had to go, but I saw a payphone. Gave her a call.”

“Yeah, and … ?”

“Had it all prepared, ‘Guten Abend, darf ich mit Johanna sprechen, bitte ?’ That’s good isn’t it ? Apparently not. Barbaric baritone belchings from hell, and phone slammed down.”

“Not a good sign.”

“Not a good sign. More port, please. Cheers. Ah, this is heavenly. So, I walk back, expecting Johanna to be there, beaming, radiant, apologetic … Nothing. My glass had been taken, new people in my seat. I checked my watch. Over ninety minutes late. I check outside. Dark, bitter, empty, depressing. Only one thing for it.”

“To Alex, to Samariterstraße, to the Czar Bar, to hell with women.”

“I went out to call her the next day. She has no way to contact me and maybe something came up. Several coats on, phone card and coins, slippin’ and a sliddin’ my way across Schönhauser Allee. Got my patter worked out. ‘Entschuldigen Sie bitte, es tut mir lied …’ As far as I got. Really belligerent death threats, I’m sure. Phone slammed down, eardrum gone for a Burton. And that was that.”

They sat and drank in silence. Richard continued:

“We’re both thinking it. Right ? This time last year … ”

“I was with Monika, you were up to no good with Gabi, chasing Lorelai with Silke on the backburner. Arizona Al, the coolest dude ever. Melanie fucked off and nobody cared how or if she got home. Oh, got ya this.” Chris went into another bag and gave Richard a paper bag covering a paperback.

“Feynman ! ‘Six Easy Pieces,’ incredible. Thanks so much.”

They clinked and finished the port.

“You know,” Richard started, “We could go out it you want. Czar Bar ? Maybe just local, maybe try Silke ?”

“No, I’m really tired. I saw some beer in the fridge. That will be OK. One or two, then I really gotta sleep. I’m exhausted.”

Thus, to the sound of fireworks and cheers, two Englishmen spent what would be their last ever Silvester together in Berlin. Within a year, one would no longer be living in Germany, the other would be on his way to achieving a modicum of fame.

Across town, Daniel was drinking Champagne, not German Sket or Prosecco, genuine Champagne out of a crystal glass that cost more than his weekly rent. He was, undoubtedly, on his way to achieve rather more than just a modicum of fame.

Across the Channel, Alan was at his parent’s home having a marathon film night. He didn’t care for the chiming of Big Ben and the linking of arms for ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ He had gone through his video collection and watched F.W.Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu’, and was now waiting for Janet Leigh to take that shower in ‘Psycho.’ ‘La Dolce Vita’ was special, that could wait until tomorrow so, after Hitchcock, he thought Truffaut’s ‘La Mariée Était en Noir,’ would be a perfect conclusion.

Across the Atlantic, Eric was on a bus heading into Manhattan. He wanted to see the ball drop for real. Naturally, the crowds were so dense he didn’t get anywhere near, but at least he was in New York, the centre of the Universe. Where else was the night brighter than the day, where else could you buy anything at anytime ? Where else could you go into any bookshop and find exactly what you were looking for, and then some.

Back in Berlin, Jake was both out of his head, and functioning as sole barman, with the occasional help from Peter. The French were in full force, Claude singing, showing off his new girlfriend, a very cute German lady in a very cute peaked cap. Marc, the eagle-headed chap responsible for creating a gravel-based installation, was with his girlfriend, an ice-blonde German who looked stunning, Johan was talking with his brother, and everybody within earshot. For the German contingent, Robert was making his usual proclamation and initiating some old friends from Heidelberg into serial vodka drinking. Thomas and Stefan were holding their own, and even planning some kind of musical collaboration with York T, who tonight had tied different colour papers in his hair. Sascha was performing some weird dance or mating ritual with Iris, his girlfriend, while Olga was shouting at Jake for being too slow with the Bloody Marys. Boris, now with short hair and dark rings under the eyes, was leaning against a wall, making small talk with some newly-arrived Russians.

Back in west Berlin, in Steglitz, an adorable young lady named Nadeem was at a small party, having one, and only one, glass of Sekt. Her closest friend, who could have been a supermodel if she were taller, couldn’t believe Nadeem was single. Everybody was chasing her. The friend was adamant that the time was right for Nadeem to be caught.

Chris was already snoring while Richard began reading Feynman’s lectures. The port was gone, the beer was gone, the chocolate was long gone.

Fireworks and explosions, laughing, clinking and drinking, hugging and kissing.

Welcome to 1996.

Notes

(1) Schlecker was a low-budget chemist chain. They sold a lot of own brand items. The company went bankrupt in 2012: https://www.ft.com/content/049ef850-0248-11e6-99cb-83242733f755

(2) Both are British slang meaning ‘have a look.’

(3) Do you have any small change, please ? A request for money from homeless

Young Learners, Level 4: Tell me a story

12th October 2021

10 Must-Read Novels & Short Story Collections By Asian American Authors |  restitchstance
Image from restitchstance.

Top Cats – I’ve shown you a lot of adjectives. Learn them, practice them, use them.

Look at these pictures. Tell me a story. Use adjectives to tell me what you see and what you think.

Here is our list of adjectives, and remember, colours are also adjectives.

amazing, angry / beautiful, big, boring /clean, clever, cute / dangerous /easy, electric, exciting / fantastic, fast, funny / greedy, great, Greek / happy, hard-working, healthy, high, huge / important, intelligent / Japanese / kind / lazy / messy / nervous / old, outgoing /popular / quick / rude / sad, selfish, shy, sleepy, small / talkative, tiny, tired / ugly, unusual / valuable / wealthy / xenophobic / year-long, young / Zambian

We have a young lady and a man.

Let’s go to work ! What can you see in the first two pictures ?

Tell me about the lady. Who is the man ? How does he feel and why ? What does the lady do ? How does she look ?

Then the lady … ?

Finally the lady … ?

OK, Top Cats, give me your answers.

Points for using adjectives, correct grammar, and pronunciation.

Fact Check: Who's this man disrespecting the Indian national flag? - Fact  Check News
Image from India Today

EXAMPLE:

A young lady with long straight dark hair is at school. She is very tired and sleepy. She has a lot of boring homework.

Her daddy is very angry. He wants the lady to be intelligent not lazy.

The lady is nervous because she is so shy. She reads many big books. She is unhappy. However, she is hard-working.

Sometimes the books are exciting and she thinks it is important to learn.

She has a high score and her family are very happy.

The beautiful clever young lady has a great job. She is wealthy and has many valuable things. However, she is not selfish. She buys her family amazing presents.

NOW … Your turn

Tell me a story

Top 10 Reasons to Volunteer Abroad in Zambia | GoAbroad.com
Zambian-boy-studies-using-a-solar-lantern_Patrick-Bentley-Solar-Aid |  Lighting Global
Despite Hunger, Poverty, Zambian Boys Enjoy Fun of Sports - en.chinagate.cn
Hakainde Hichilema: the Zambian “cattle boy” who became president

Tips: Tell me what the boy looks like. Tell me how he feels. Tell me what he does. Finally, what happens to the boy when he grows up ?

How about this story ?

447 Baby Dolphins Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Notes and links

The ‘Young Lady’ story was originally used in an IELTS blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/01/06/ielts-4-5-speaking-class/

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images and are used for educational purposes. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Taiwan: Happy National Day

10th October 2021

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech during National Day celebrations in front of the presidential office in Taipei, Taiwan, on October 10.
Copyright CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/10/10/asia/taiwan-national-day-tsai-intl-hnk/index.html
Copyright Asharq Al-Awsat: https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/3237286/taiwan-wants-%E2%80%98status-quo%E2%80%99-not-china%E2%80%99s-path-president-says
Taiwanese do not bow to China, the president says News - Xnewsnet
Copyright Xnewsnet

Young Learners 4: Let’s build some sentences. Part 2

6th October 2021

Photo found on Google Images

Let’s start to use some verbs. We’ll start with:

I have // you have // he has // she has // we have

I have a sister. She is funny and talkative.

two girl molding a snowman during daytime
Royalty-free image from Google

Now … Your Turn.

I have a brother. He is …

amazing, angry / beautiful, big /clean, clever, cute / dangerous /easy, electric / fantastic, funny / greedy, great, Greek / happy, healthy, huge / important, intelligent / Japanese / kind / lazy / messy / nervous / old, outgoing /popular / quick / rude / sad, selfish, shy, small / talkative, tiny / ugly, unusual / valuable / wealthy / xenophobic / year-long, young / Zambian

Royalty-free image from Google

Tell me about your mother, father or cousin.

Let’s move on

I have + adjective + noun. Pronouns + is + adjectives

EXAMPLE: I have a Japanese friend. She is clever and shy.

Royalty-free image from Google

The sentence has 3 adjectives. Tell me about your friend:

I have a … friend. He or She is … and …

Tell me about these people:

This man is Greek. I have a Greek friend. He is …

Royalty-free image from Google

This lady is English. I have an ….

Royalty-free image from Google

This man is Japanese. I have a …

Royalty-free image from Google

Now, let’s talk about pets.

Royalty-free image from Google

I have a cute puppy. He is small, quick and happy.

Tell me about your pet.

Tell me about these animals:

Royalty-free image from Google
Royalty-free image from Google
Royalty-free image from Google
Royalty-free image from Google

Bye bye from the friendly bear.

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images and are used for educational purposes. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Young Learners 4: Let’s build some sentences. Part 1

5th October 2021

26,846 BEST Asian Construction Woman IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe  Stock
Photo found on Google Images

Some activities to help young students and beginners build longer sentences, and to identify the word types such as verbs, nouns and adjectives.

Are you ready ?

Iron Man, are you ready ?

8 Actors Considered for Iron Man Before Robert Downey Jr. - E! Online
Yes, Thay Paul, I’m ready !

Wonder Woman, are you ready ?

Born Ready || Diana (wonder woman) - YouTube

Muddy Waters, are you ready ?

Muddy Waters – I'm Ready (1994, CD) - Discogs

Let’s go ! First – what is this ?

A lot of students will just shout out, ‘Kangaroo,’ but we need to answer in a sentence – ‘It’s a kangaroo.’

However, let’s use some adjectives. Look and tell me what you see.

The Kangaroo is brown and grey // big // strong // beautiful or ugly // happy or angry //

It’s a big brown and grey kangaroo.

Now … Your Turn. What is this ?

For younger classes, just ask for ‘It’s a / an …’ For higher levels, aim for adjectives.

African elephant calf is born in Mexico during pandemic, they call it  'Zoom' | Web24 News

Remember, elephant begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) so we have to use ‘an‘ – It’s an elephant.

With adjectives ‘It’s an amazing elephant’, or ‘It’s a cute elephant.’

Moving on … who knows an adjective beginning with … ‘a’ ? With ‘b’ ?

3 Times as a Man When Thinking Small Is Good - Michael Holland

Let’s have a collection of adjectives:

amazing, angry / beautiful, big /clean, clever, cute / dangerous /easy, electric / fantastic, funny / greedy, great, Greek / happy, healthy, huge / important, intelligent / Japanese / kind / lazy / messy / nervous / old, outgoing /popular / quick / rude / sad, selfish, shy, small / talkative, tiny / ugly, unusual / valuable / wealthy / xenophobic / year-long, young / Zambian

Make sentences using 2 or 3 of the adjectives.

Indian princess by VeraVoyna.deviantart.com on @DeviantArt | Indian princess,  Indian disney princess, Disney princess movies
5 ways to live like Crazy Rich Asians in Singapore | Travel - Hindustan  Times
Check out the pretty selfies from T-ara's Qri | T-ara World
Singer from Korean band T-ara
Bye to favour as Zambia brace for COSAFA Cup Draw - 2021 COSAFA Cup
Football team from Zambia

Next time, using verbs. See you soon.

Venice Film Festival: Jimmy Page Attends Led Zeppelin Doc Premiere |  Billboard
Bye bye from Mr Jimmy Page

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images and are used for educational purposes. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Love and Chaos. Part 9(J) Enrique Granados – ‘The Last Romantic’

1st October 2021

Granados
Enrique Granados

“My motto has always been to renounce an easy success in order to achieve one that is true and lasting.”

Enrique Granados achieved lasting success in 1889 with the publication of his ‘Danzas españolas’. The composer, born near Barcelona in 1867, had just returned from studying piano in Paris. Upon publication, the collection of twelve piano pieces proved to be immediately popular.

His music is classified as Nationalistic, which means being inspired by, and celebrating, the history, culture and traditions of the homeland. For his second lasting achievement, Granados, not unlike Mussorgsky in Russia, sought inspiration from art. His musical musings on the work of fellow Spaniard Francisco de Goya, the ‘Goyescas’, are cited as his masterpiece.

During the period of composition (1911 – 1913), Granados met Ernest Schelling, a pianist from America, who arranged a music publisher in the USA as well as encouraging the arrangement of the Goya piece into an opera. It was set to premiere at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

There were two problems that foreshadowed tragedy. Firstly, Granados was terrified of water, secondly the premier was in 1916. Europe was at war.

In January 1916, the Opera, well-received, had its world premiere. Granados stayed longer in the USA to perform some piano recitals.

He and his wife had planned to sail directly back to Spain when an invitation to play for President Wilson at the White House arrived.

The journey home was delayed by a day, and the route was altered; New York to the UK, UK to France. As they crossed the English Channel, a German U-Boat torpedoed their ship. On March 24th 1916, the composer and his wife were killed.

A short time before, Granados had written to a friend

“I have a whole world of ideas. I am only now starting my work.”

Love and Chaos. Part 9(I) Richard 2

30th September 2021

Wichertstasse, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

Part Nine. Berlin. Sylvester 1995

Richard smiled at a group of children who were setting off firecrackers on the street. He was walking back from the phone box, ineffectively-gloved hands as deep as possible in jacket pocket, shoulders hunched together, wooly hat covering as much face as possible, said face facing down, avoiding the skin-scraping sandpaper hail.

Lot’s wife would have had no problem; turning back against the blizzard would be impossible. Lot’s wife survives, Lot’s daughters wouldn’t have got Lot Czar-bared, and maybe the world would have been a better place. Yes, Richard had found a King James version of the Bible, and had decided that Genesis was populated by some seriously demented people. Chris would love it.

Apropos of Chris, Richard made a detour along Wichertstrasse to get some food in. The street, parallel to Rodenberg, was more commercial, having several stores. A small German-language school, admonishing Richard every time he walked past, a small Spar market, a Waschcentre and shops to be filed under ‘miscellaneous’. Into Spar, grabbing a wire basket and loading up with the new staple food; a frozen fish pie that was reasonable and actually delicious. The Spar home-brand pizza was a sorry item, but 99 Pfennings, you couldn’t go (far) wrong. 99 Pfennings German Camembert (Camembert-style), brown bread, some tomatoes for colour, certainly not for taste, giant sausage, beer, Sekt and Ritter’s chocolate bars. The packing was great, the variety of flavours were great, they tasted fucking great. In the spirit of Christmas, you could forgive the Germans so much, for producing such heavenly chocolate, and the beer wasn’t bad either. The women … some of the women … were breathtaking.

Gabi. Why didn’t he make a play for Gabi ? She was so far out of his league, there would have been nothing to lose. This time last year, he was together with her, alone, in a locked bathroom. But that was last year. This year is ending with more Teutonic screaming from an unknown male on Johanna’s number. So that is that. Johanna can go to hell with the rest of 1995. Two dates, a building up of critical mass and then … and then.

Chris was flying back today. He should have some Physics books. Maybe something on String Theory. At least Stephen Hawking’s ‘Brief History of Time,’ that was thin enough. Pimms, maybe, Stilton, unlikely, gossip unquestionably. Chocolate, well, that’s covered.

Several hours later, the flat remarkably toasty from continual offerings to the Öfen, a thumping on the door. Laden with cases, nose and ears red from imminent frostbite, smiling ear to frozen ear stood Chris;

“Recalled to life, recalled to active duty, the beer goes on, the beat goes on, Berlin goes on !”

Love and Chaos. Part 9(H) Jake 1

27th September 2021

Photograph by Martin O’Shea 2020

Part Nine. Berlin. Christmas Day 1995

“I couldn’t believe it, fucking hell, man, you know what this crazy bitch woman say ?”

Richard arrived at the Czar Bar just as Johan was delivering these festive felicitations. Jake gave him a nod and Daniel beckoned him over to a free bar stool. It was mid afternoon, there was a mild, happy vibe, no drunken madness, just the buzz of an easy beer or two, or so. And then there was Johan. He was holding court, gesticulating, slamming his bottle down before drinking from it. Daniel turned to Richard;

“’ere’s what you’ve missed. Johan and his girlfriend have split up.”

“No ! When ?”

“Last night.”

Richard asked why and wasn’t prepared for the answer, which Johan himself supplied;

“The whores of Amsterdam !”

The five or six men around the bar laughed. Peter, the one time possible Poseidon, was leaning quietly on the end of the bar and there were a couple of Germans Richard recognised, who smiled at him, raising their bottles. When the laughter died, Daniel was able to elucidate.

“’im and ‘is bird were watching TV last night, and they saw some old clip of Jacques Brel singing ‘Amsterdam’.”

Johan took over;

“Yeah, and he . . .“ here Johan acted out the performance, sans need to exaggerate gestures and expressions. “And this girl, this fucking crazy bitch woman, she say, ‘why he all excited, he only sing about prostitutes ?’ So . . . that it, you know, I tell her, man, she have to go !”

Jake was busy with the tapes and CD’s, looking for some Brel, or at least a Bowie version of ‘Amsterdam’, but the closest he found was Tom Waits, so he played that. He got a fresh beer, made sure everyone was OK for drinks, then called out;

“Hey, Peter, watch the bar, I’ll be right back.” Jake went out the back door and immediately the cry went up for free vodkas, but Peter desisted, taking his new job very seriously. Except when he changed the CD and, selecting a new one, turned it over in his hands, asking;

“Which side do I play ?” then he opened his mouth, missing teeth and all, and laughed.

When Jake returned, Johan and one of the Germans lifted their arms and cried out in happy surprise. Richard turned to see Jake with a guitar.

“I couldn’t find a version on tape, and it’s Christmas, so what the fuck ?”

He turned off the music, tuned up a bit, then began slowly strumming the chords to Amsterdam. His voice was dusky and strained, a little affected but was in tune, and got stronger as the song went on.

When he finished, the bar applauded and demanded more, but instead, Jake turned the music back on, put the guitar in a corner and opened the vodka. Richard stuck with beer, which he drank very slowly.

More people came in, more drinks were poured and the bar split into small groups as Johan joined some French friends, and the Germans left to play Flipper.

Richard called Jake over and congratulated him on his playing. Jake dismissed it with a wave, and launched into an explanation of what the song was really about;

“Yeah, there’s this sailor, and he’s surrounded by the filth of the world, where love is nothing more than a cheap, sordid fuck and people spend all their time just trying to obliterate their minds . . .”

“Sounds like this place,” added Daniel with a laugh, but Jake ignored him, focusing on Richard,

“But this sailor has beauty in his heart, he wants a pure woman, a pure love, he has dreams and ideals and despite everyone trying to drag him down to the gutter, he remains true to himself. And must therefore be alone. Always. Vodka !”

As they clinked Richard, still abstaining from the Stoli, noticed a sadness in Jake’s eyes and understood that Jake was referring more to himself than to any Brel song. Just as Jake often wore a heavy beard to cover up his spots, rashes and eczema, so he adopted a gruff persona to cover up a scarred heart.

At this time, Jake was on at least a bottle of vodka per day, often more. Yet he was legendary in Rigaerstrasse. No one could ever recall seeing Jake sober; alternately, no one had ever seen him hopelessly drunk. He always managed to work to the end. Boris may complain of the mess he left, but the bar was always cleared of sleeping drunks, doors always locked. Chris had lost count of how many times he had been helped up the stairs of his squat by Jake. But also, in all that time, no one had ever seen Jake in a relationship. There had been some usual drunken kisses with drunken squatters, but even these had dried up over the last years. Not that Jake didn’t appreciate women, he always had a comment to make about any woman he saw, never lewd, always respectful judgements.

He had been on his own so long, that he had almost accepted that he always would be despite this being painful and anathema to his romantic spirit, a spirit that longed to take a woman to his bed just to hold her, to love her and feel her love back. He still had faint hopes that he would find someone. Then he remembered his flat. His appearance. Any optimism was crushed. And as it was crushed, a new bottle was opened.

Richard, still refusing vodka, began to leave. He took a look around, thinking that he wouldn’t be back for a long time. He said his goodbyes, responded to Jake’s, “Don’t be a stranger,” with a nod and a commitment to return. Then Daniel stopped him.

“Wait a tic, I’ll walk with ya a bit. Could use some air.”

They walked to Danziger Str, Daniel asking about Johanna.

Richard turned and made the universal sign for ‘no idea’. Daniel put his arm around him then turned the conversation back to himself.

“Me piece comes out in the new year. She wants me to ‘ave a go at poetry, now,” he explained, referring to Jeanette, the editor of Savage Revolt. “Says there’s lots of poetry nights, open mic things around town. Be good to get exposure.”

“Yeah, sounds good.”

“Ya reckon ? Poetry ? Fuck me, I don’t read that faggot shit.”

“It doesn’t have to be all flowers and clouds, you know. Hey, what’s this ?” Richard had seen a small poster for a production of Rimbaud. “And look, it’s in English.”

“Oh, I dunno, it’s some theatre thing. Vincent, yeah ? Jake kinda knows ‘im.”

“Any good ?”

“Only met ‘im once. Right arrogant prick. Total wanker.”

“No, the theatre ?”

“Doubt it.”

“’Season in Hell’. Sounds cheerful. Fancy going ? Mid January.”

“Might as well. ‘ho are these other fucks ? Julie . . . Re . . . torree ? Alan Francis ? Never ‘eard of ’em.”

“I’ll tell Chris. He’ll be up for it. Maybe Jake.” Daniel just snorted. “Yeah. Maybe not.”

“Right, you coming back to the bar, then ?”

“No, think I’ll have an easy evening.” Instead, they found an open Imbiss, had some dreadful fatty food and returned to the bar.

Richard woke up, hungover, headache, hungry, sick and sickened. The fridge was almost empty, the coffee almost gone. This couldn’t continue. The New Year was coming and it had to be different. For Richard’s physical and mental health, it had to be different.

Love and Chaos. Part 9(G) A Christmas Miscellany

24th September 2021

Berlin in winter. Photo by Martin O’Shea

Part Nine. Berlin. December 1995

Sunday morning and the room reeked of hangover.

Richard had to use the bathroom, had to vomit, had to open a window, had to drink litres of designer French water, had to take several aspirins, had to have a blood transfusion, had to be joking to think that this was any sort of life.

Richard could not get out of bed, could not turn or move; who had used his head as a punch bag ? He checked his face. Teeth intact. Stubble, even the stubble stank of old cigarettes, but no discernable cuts, bruises, bleeding.

The room had an unbearage fug of everything that was unholy and unhealthy. He had to open the window but it was minus God-knows what outside. It would purify the stench … or was that sunlight ? There would be no sunlight for at least five months, meanwhile … water.

But every movement resulted in an internal knockout blow to the head. Some inner-cranial entity was hell-bent on kicking the crap out of the back of Richard’s eyes. And he had to vomit. The thought made him want to vomit. He had to use the bathroom. The thought of that made him want to vomit. The infamous, cruel and unusual, you are being held to account, porcelain punishment.

Dreading how much repulsive fluid was able to emerge, projectile or explosive, from this paragon of animals, and what a Styxian stench would engulf the flat, our pilgrim makes the journey, more or less on his knees, to the bathroom, and we shall close the door on that chapter and return when sufficient ablutions have been made.

London, the clocks one hour behind. Chris woke up in Battersea, in Melanie’s flat. She sat on his bed as he drank his tea. There was toast with jam and marmalade waiting. Later they could go into the West End, take in a museum, see a film, have a beer and talk over old times. The room had central heating, the flat had a newly-painted feel, everything seemed so clean, ordered and organised.

London, several miles north in Chalk Farm, Alan was nursing a cold in his sister Jo’s flat. How could he have been such an idiot as to go walking, in the Berlin winter, knowing he had a late flight that evening. Freezing streets, overheated U-Bahns, chilly airport lounges, a stifling cramped sweaty plane, draining immigration, bedlam at baggage and then … and then the long journey on the London Tube. After several teas, lots of sympathy noises, and a potential overdose of Lemsip, Alan screened the Super 8 film.

“She’s gorgeous, that Julie. You little tinker, you ! I told you Berlin would do you the world of good.”

Back on Berlin time, Daniel Roth was reflecting on his night out. Instead of hitting the Czar Bar, or meeting workmates in some lifeless stuffy time-frozen 70s style pub, he went solo, trying some bars around Yorckstrasse. New year, new start. He restricted himself to wine, and experimented holding his cigarette in different styles. He didn’t want to look too affected or effeminate, yet he succeeded in being both. However, he did end up chatting with two German girls and could feel them about to succumb to his charms, giving him a double Weihnachten (Christmas) gift, until they linked arms and departed. Daniel spent the rest of the evening drinking with the old Turkish barkeeper, whose face seems inscribed with wisdom, gentleness and experience. He thought back over his conversation with Jeanette, and his killer put down.

His feet were fast freezing, coins devoured by the phone box, Jeanette’s voice exuding warmth, comfort, opulence.

“We absolutely adored it, there’s no question, no question at all that it meets our criteria, only, well, how shall I put it delicately ? Daniel, it is a little near the bone for some of our board. I’m sure you know the section to which I allude.”

Daniel paused for effect.

“The magazine’s called ‘Savage Revolt’.”

A few seconds of silence.

“Do you know, you are absol…, no, quite right, we have an obligation to the artist, and … and, if certain people don’t wish to read it, they don’t have to, yes, yes. Let’s do it. I’m going to go to bat for you.”

“Unedited ?”

“Unedited, you have my word. Now, my young Hemingway, what are you doing on Silvester ? I’m having a little soiree and you simply must come. There’s a lot of people that want to meet you.”

Sunday afternoon, Daniel found one of the few Lebensmittel open and bought more wine, Sekt, chocolate, tins of goulash, giant tins of soup, cigarettes, cigarette papers, factory-produced bread and cake-type items, then returned home. He was going to read some books Chris had loaned him, maybe write a follow-up story. It seemed official. He was going to be published, and people wanted to meet him. Controversial already. But, it was Berlin. Maybe it was all just so much bullshit. He opened the wine, opened Dickens, took a swig straight from the bottle and thought, “Fuck me !”

“Fucking hell, never, never, never again,” announced Richard to no one in particular, as there was no one with him, save the Tasmanian devil running amok inside his brain. He had finished the water, and was now settling down for a day of mint tea and self-recrimination.

Serves him right for expecting anything good to happen in this shit city, in this shit life. He had hoped that he would be waking up, snuggling up, to Johanna.

At least this time he couldn’t blame himself for being drunk or too forward or not forward enough. He had been at the bar early, and waited. And waited … and waited. Johanna had stood him up.

Merry fucking Christmas